Reading the other day I read these words: “America is not burdened with the history of tyranny and totalitarianism that haunts Russia. We have a 229-year record of success with constitutional democracy that should outlast the Trump era.”
I thought to myself “I hope so but our history is not as successful as the writer thinks and and D.Trump is so far out of the box our history may teach us another lesson.”
For one thing no other president ever called a portion of the free press the “enemy of the American people.” Here is his tweet: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC,@CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” He lumps together the main news sources in America, NY Times, NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN, as fake news sources.
Take President Nixon who had the most hostile relationship with the media in recent years. He had his enemies list which had names of media people on it. He considered some of the media his enemies but not in the longest day did he deem them enemies of the American people.
At the CPAC convention he repeated this assertion. He said: “the dishonest media did not explain that I called the ‘fake’ news the enemy of the people. . . . .I’m not against the media. I’m not against the press. I don’t mind bad stories if I deserve them….but I am only against the fake news media or press.” Of course those named entities are the enemy of the people.
At his Hitler-type gathering Saturday in Melboure, FL it is reported D.Trump declared that “safety is a civil right, and we will fight to make America totally safe again.” One of the first steps in doing this impossible task especially since he is no longer totally safe as I explained yesterday is to identify and silence the enemy. As you know every dictator needs an enemy. For Trump it is the free press.
Three lessons you should take from the use of those words: “enemy of the American people,” which by the way should send a shiver down the bones of anyone who believes in a liberal democracy. First, (1) the type of leaders who used those words in the past; (2) the fragility of our system of checks and balances to the whims of a president during a national emergency; and (3) the willingness of those in uniform to follow orders.
(1) Enemy of the American People.
“The Cheka was used by Vladimir Lenin to consolidate his power after the November 1917 Revolution. . . While in theory the Cheka had to operate by the letter of the law, this was not the case and such was its power that no one could do anything about it if they were arrested for being an ‘enemy of the state’. The Cheka became judge, jury and invariably executioner.”
“Several reasons could be named for Joseph Stalin’s terror. First of all, he believed that the country had to be united – with him as leader – if it was to be strong. . . . The purges affected not only those who openly opposed Stalin, but ordinary people too. During Stalin’s rule of the country over 20 million people were sent to labor camps, where nearly half of them died. . . . After Stalin’s death all of the victims of the purges (or as they were called, “enemies of the people”) were gradually rehabilitated.”
“This was an extremely brutal operation carried out by communists from the towns called twenty-five thousanders who were sent to run the villages. I’ve got a quotation from Grossman about the kulaks . . . He said, . . . “They looked on the kulaks as cattle, swine, loathsome, repulsive. They had no soul. They stank. They all had venereal diseases. They’re enemies of the people. There was no pity for them. They’re not human beings. What were they — vermin.”
“Mao Zedong, former Chinese leader, embraced the concept of calling individuals or associations that were critical of his policies ‘enemies of the people’. As he explained: ‘members of society are divided into two major categories: the ‘people’ and the ‘class enemy’.”
“Breaking the back of labour was the first necessary step towards the Nazis’ other goals: the re-arming of Germany in preparation for the most destructive war in history, the construction of a classless Volksgemeinschaft (national community) and the destruction of all “enemies of the people”—a campaign that would end in the industrial murder of millions of European Jews.”
The BBC noted: “Being branded “an enemy of the people” by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death.”
Trump is now in the company of Vladimir Lenin, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao.
Oh, and I should not forget Pol Pot. A review of the movie “Enemies of the People” stated “Yet one aspect of Democratic Kampuchea remains neglected, and relates to the way the Khmer Rouge used language to facilitate their murderous policies . . . ” Thus we see in the D.Trump presidency echoes of the worst dictators ever to have lived.